Harper’s Weekly sent Winslow Homer to the front lines to sketch camp life and battle scenes throughout the war, but in this June 1863 illustration, “Home From the War,” Homer celebrated soldiers reuniting with their loved ones. Readers would have known, however, that more than likely such soldiers would soon leave for another tour of duty from which they might not return.
Grand reviews like this one depicted in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper occurred frequently across Northern cities and towns during the summer of 1865.
Songs such as When This War Is Over I Will Come Back to Thee expressed soldiers’ longing to return as the war dragged into its second year.
Titles published in 1865—including Home the Boys Are Marching; or, Ring The Merry Bells and Coming Home; or, “The Cruel War Is Over”—celebrate the end of the four-year ordeal.
Coming Home; or, “The Cruel War Is Over” lauds the return of husbands, sons, and brothers with the lyrics:
Boys, don’t keep us waiting, quickly march along!
Loving ones are watching at the door
Listening for footsteps since the early dawn
Come and live in peace forevermore
Coming home, coming home, don’t you hear the drum?
Yes, they’re coming home, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The cruel war is over, the noble work is done
They’re coming, they are coming from the war.